Photos – Paz Tassone

In presenting a life on stage, we might default to major moments – even if those moments had less impact on that individuals shaping than observers might believe. To document significant moments without considered nuanced observation is to deliver a timeline rather than a creative work with pay off – afterall, it was only us, the privileged viewer, who knew the truth of Citizen Kane’s Rosebud.

So what do we learn and what sort of light does Sunshine Super Girl shine on Evonne Goolagong Cawley? Unfortunately in this work – nothing very illuminating at all.

Given the extraordinary achievements of this incredible tennis player, it felt equally extraordinary to feel her life somehow diluted because writer and director Andrea James never quite goes for it. Being made an honorary white person to compete in South Africa, conversations with friends camped out the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra, inferred sexual abuse, poor career management, extraordinary gifts realised by pure chance – all genuine points of conflict and tension that lacked rigorous dramatic exploration and opportunity. Described as ‘a quintessentially Blak Australian story’ Sunshine Super Girl oddly didn’t feel like one, but then maybe that was the point. What are our expectations of Aboriginal stories on stage and whose expectations are story tellers seeking to meet?

Visually this show is genuinely exciting and seeing the Sumner Theatre with a tennis court for a stage and an audience on both sides was both fun and fabulously novel. A story about one of Australia’s finest sports people, an incredibly talented and hardworking cast energised with wonderfully innovative, narrative, and poetic movement by Katina Olsen, Sunshine Super Girl was a much anticipated and exciting salvage from a covid cursed season and on paper it absolutely exhilarated – but in the theatre, it sadly underwhelmed.

Event details

Melbourne Theatre Company presents
Sunshine Super Girl
by Andrea James

Director Andrea James

Venue: The Sumner | Southbank Theatre VIC
Dates: 9 Nov — 14 Dec 2022
Bookings: www.mtc.com.au

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